|Consulting the Crystal Ball|
High atop an endless void sits the throne of the universe. The center of the Kingdom of Zeal where the almighty Queen overlooks all of existence. The throne itself is elaborately carved in red and gold, and much like the fabled kingdom, the platform on which it rests hovers over that ghastly darkness below it. To give the illusion of walls, large woven tapestries hang from the high ceiling and tie to the rear of the floating platform. Leading away from the throne is what appears to be a long red carpet suspended on nothing, and quite sturdy to the touch. Behind the throne is a small set of floating steps leading down to the only other platform allowed over the void...
Queen Zeal paces before the throne staring off into the various orbs she's summoned, as always, of various places in and around the Kingdom. Her eyes lock on to each one in turn as she travels back and forth before the throne rubbing her hands nervously...
Gunzota slowly enters the throne room walking across the carpet and kneeling before the queen. His now crimson hair pulled back, the frozen flame in his forehead clearly visible now. He kneels waiting for the order to rise.
Queen Zeal ignores Gunzota completly as she makes her rounds watching the the orbs as they hover over the abyss. Finaly she stares at one for a long moment and then double takes realising she's watching someone in her own throne room. Spinning quickly, sending her dress twirling in the air around her briefly, she locks her eyes on Gunzota and glares, "...how long where you going to kneel there before alerting me of your pressence?"
Gunzota says, "I thought you had heard me enter my Queen. I apologize."
Queen Zeal scofs, "I have enough on my mind without keeping up with you. What do you want?" Turning her back towards him, she stares off into another orb as if searching for something...
Gunzota says, "I came to report our status on one of the projects that was finally field tested. It was a success and we've captured a new being to be turned into a weapon."
Funny how some figures just have a way of not being noticed, despite a startling or eye-catching appearance. Schala seems often to find herself standing alone, seemingly not heeded by those around her, but perhaps this is simply a feature of her mother's so ingrained within the psyche that she has begun to imagine it upon the faces of many others who are perhaps not guilty... either way, the princess royal lurks now at the edge of the chamber's platform, a short distance from Gunzota. Her dark eyes are fixed upon her mother, her expression set in a non-comittal frown, hands folded within the sleeves of her gown and held close to her slender body.
"You should treat the general a little better, mother.. he does good work for our civilization." A smile? Just the hint of one, breaking the cool, passionless exterior of the girl as she drifts forward a short way, one hand leaving its sleeve as she reaches out to place it gently upon the knelt man's shoulder. Her smile vanishes though, on hearing the first part of his report, a frown touching at her brow instead. "What manner of being?" She asks quietly, seeming to take no notice of any interruption she might be making... she is, after all, merely one position below the Queen herself.
Queen Zeal peers over her shoulder at the still kneeling commander. After several seconds she nods her head, as if finaly realising what was said. Waving a hand dismisivly she begins to pace again, "Oh, is that all... your petty concerns bore me, Gunzota. Lavos grows restless... something is disturbing his feast..."
Gunzota starts slightly at that unexpected touch to his shoulder though he remains steadfast, "In that timeline they referred to it as a Mosok. It should be fitted for control now if you would like to see it?"
Something Schala has never heard of... and as such, there is no discernable reaction, the frown remaining in place while her gaze gently sweeps across Gunzota, then up to her mother. She pauses, awaiting the Queen's response impassively, unmoving with her hand keeping its light touch upon the shoulder of the general. But what reaction should she expect? There is only one answer to such words from Gunzota. Of course they must see this new specimen, however much a servant of Zeal can be trusted to provide what is best.
Queen Zeal hmphs at the two of them as she scans each image in turn. Her unfeeling eyes still searching... for something... but so much the same as always. As she turns back around, retracing her steps, she gazes at Schala and Gunzota and shakes her head, "Don't you two have something more important to do? All you ever do is stand around, as if waiting for some response from the walls..... THERE ARE NO WALLS! It's just the old tapestries... don't you know this?" Upturning her nose she continues her sporatic trip back and forth accross the platform.
Gunzota says, "I apologize if I have upset you Majesty. I will leave then if you so desire." he remembered a day before the QUeen had become so...distracted, "But I I may voice a concern first?"
'There are no walls.'
Queen Zeal gazes over her shoulder as she passes by again, "Concern for what? Yes, yes, speak up.... we don't have all day. Lavos stirs..." Then, that forgotten yet familar voice. Staring at it's source for a slight moment she nods her head again. "Yes. Your duties, I know... I am just, now well... you will know this once you feel the great provider inside your mind as I do... When Lavos is not well, neiter am I...." Sharing Schala's glance at the floor she suddenly glares upwards once again, "But you needn't stand so straight. Don't let yourself be taken in... you'll miss something important!" Hurridly she stares back at Gunzota, "What is your concern already?"
Gunzota says, "Your highness seems far to distracted lately. And you do not seem yourself. Is there something that we at least should know of to better help you? Especially if Lavos is uneasy."
'The great provider.' This time Schala mouths the words, not merely echoing them in her own mind, her lips phrasing each syllable silently as her simultaneously deep yet empty stare remains upon the void occupying the ground. A perceived void only, but ultimately.. the same as any other. "Perhaps you are right, mother. But there might be a way in which I can help, you have only to ask..." she trails off, glancing to Gunzota's side as he speaks. His words are met with a shallow nod, the girl's head shifting gently downward, that stray fleck of blue brushing her pale skin again. This time a hand lifts to brush it away, not irritably but with a touch as graceful and light as a pleasant breeze.. perfect grace embodied in her movements, even as they remain so cold and functional.
Queen Zeal stares off at another orb, her eyes becoming more and more distant with each one she watches. Listening to the conversation, but not really able to comprehend it anymore she nods her head and dismissivly waves her hand again. "No no... nothing. It's all fine. Things will move on. But this newly found other presents an issue. The other times, the other worlds... all the others where destroyed in the feast. Now this... this thing... this other Lavos. It's a mockery... a fraud." Finaly redeeming a sane look to her face she turns and walks towards the two once more. "I want this new threat elliminated. It would please Lavos greatly to feast upon the doppilganger. It would please me as well... but now is the time for subtlety... we must learn what we can. There is only one other relm that shares this world it seems. The others are gone. We can't be too haste..." Nodding her head she turns towards the nearest edge of the platform and walks up to it, as if preparing to keep going into the abyss below. "Yes... too many parrallels... too much distraction..."
Gunzota says, "I can get started right away Majesty." he slowly rises, "Tell the Shadows to begin infiltrations, even go myself. Especially to try and find a place to find this fake Lavos."
Has power finally gone to her mother's head, as Schala so fears? But how can it be... Zeal is so close to perfection, to being the grandest of all empires, to being -the only empire-, that such a thing cannot be allowed to happen yet. But is this function, or concern, this mysterious force that propels Schala as she skirts around the speaking Gunzota and breaks off towards the queen's retreating back. Once his words are done, she sends a nod back over her shoulder, then takes the last few steps to catch her mother, trailing her almost as though hovering, her robe hiding her feet and her movements so soft as to be unheard.
Queen Zeal begins to rub her hands again as she stares down at that inviting darkness below. Half shaking her head she begins by repeating herself, "No no... it's all fine... but subtlty... we must act in darkness. In shroud. The false ones would be looking for us. We need... to manipulate. To learn as I said. The dark times are approching and we must act accordingly. I already sent Janus there... he, has not spoke back of me..."
Gunzota pauses, this was something he hadn't been told, "When did you send Prince Janus there Majesty?"
When that name is mentioned, Schala is just reaching out for a shoulder of the woman who gave birth to her.. who taught her all she knows today... fingers closing tentatively as they lower. But instantly her hands clench to fists, shaking a little and quickly lowered to her side, the girl's lips thinning. Words? Far beyond her.. if any incite the dimly remembered emotions, none do so better than her brother. He who even dares to acknowledge their relationship. Thankfully there is another here to continue the exchange, and after taking a slow step back, Schala merely waits for the response... she had been aware of Janus' absence, but chosen not to question until now. For all her power, absolute sight is beyond her, and even one able to move as quietly and in such confidence as the princess royal must occasionally miss things. Even such important things.
Queen Zeal turns abruptly, her dress again spinning around her as a side effect of the guesture, "What? Janus? Oh... HAH-HAH-HAH!!! Janus is not here... I haven't seen the lad since he left. I told him to go alone, but he insisted on that stupid cat. Of course that was centuries ago and the cat is dead.... but the mangy corpse still lays thick in the memory of the day...." Her thoughts briefly bringing her back she shakes her head at the sight of her daughter not but an arms length from her now. "No child... Janus went to run an arrand for me, that's all. The details are unimportant."
Gunzota says, "Would you like me to locate him for you then My Lady? Prince Janus is after all important to our country's future. Never mind the fact that he may have a good deal of information on Lavos of that timeline." Not to mention the fact the words from all those decades echo in his mind, the Queen's words even.
And never mind those other issues... those closer to the heart that still beats in at least one of Zeal's inhabitants. A stifled thump, but it's there and so very real. Forcing herself down beneath a solemn mask again, Schala merely gives a slow nod, gaze shooting downward again with something approaching shame... that she would let her brother's memory get in the way of what must be done is not acceptable. Something for her to meditate upon later, while preparing for any need her mother might have of her in this latest excursion for the greater good. Still no more words echo forth, the princess knowing too well her place at times like these. In the shadows. Whether those shadows be visible or not, she is only too proficient at finding solace in their depths...
Queen Zeal glares at Gunzota as his words actualy reach that far off place she's found herself, "He needs not be found!?! I know where he is... You mind your own buisnesss, Commander, before I find need to remove that... oh dear, whatever that thing is that your good doctor worked up for you. Besides which, I grow weary of discussing my spawn... they have their own free wills and can act independently. Now... whatever happened with that report of yours? Where is this information you promised me about these flawed reflections?" Suddenly she catches herself and stares back into that void below. "Or did we only now speak of this...?" Shaking her head she glances back at one of the many orbs still floating around them, reflecting back images from almost everywhere in the kingdom. "I can feel it... Lavos is uneasy..."
Gunzota says, "We only spoke of it now My Queen." is his only response. He keeps his confusion down, "I will investigate that right away thought."
"Flawed reflections, mother? What's happened?" This time Schala is quick to speak up, lifting her gaze and raising a single delicate eyebrow towards her mother's back. This subject is at least more comfortable than the last one, whatever it may be, and she is able to push everything back where it belongs.. until later, until she is alone in her chambers and can relax in an environment to encourage such. Away from the dramatic cold of the throne room. "You should speak to me more," she adds more quietly, a slight pleading edge creeping into the fragile-seeming girl's tone, "I can help, you know that. My power is as yours..."
Queen Zeal glares back at the wishful thinking girl, "Your power is nothing.... do not speak as thought it where!! You can't even understand such a basic thing as a world that mirrors our own. What else would I be speaking of?? Has your mind finaly left you? Has your age caught up to you? MWA-HAH-HAH-HAH!!!! Dear, you bring me such amusment..." Casting a brief glance towards the throne she sighs and shakes her head, "If only my own children where so amusing to me..." Suddenly her legs seem to almost give out on her. Catching herself, she raises a ringed hand to her face, "...oh, Schala.. but you are, aren't you...? These new found troubles are making my mind slip... Perhaps a cure rests in the disease? Yes... I'm sure of it..."
Snapped at once again, an aggravation to old wounds but so little else. However much she would like it to be. The only indication of a reaction from Schala is a slight upturning of her chin, and just the merest flicker of defiance in those once-soulful eyes... but only a flicker. Why defy when Zeal works out all the better for her acceptance, her tolerance of these periods? "Yes, mother." She responds after a second, cutting across the Queen's continuing speech. A cold acknowledgement, without any assertion behind it. Acceptance. But then comes something that brings a catch to her throat, the girl forced to swallow a sudden lump.. these children, these spawn she speaks of... more doubt as to her mother's sanity. Or could it be she truly is becoming one with the great Lavos? The process has taken so long if so, but.. no. She will not think of it, save it for another meditation or perhaps for never. Never forever. Casting her gaze out into the void, Schala gives a brief shake of her head followed by a more definite nod. "I am, mother, you know that. It's why I have always served Zeal, and why I wield what power I do. I am yours, part of your powerful self..." Flawed reflections, though. It dawns now.. the recent events so well kept from her immediate attention. So there is another Schala on this world, another Zeal even... yet more to ponder, to think upon and consider.
Gunzota says, "Regardless Majesty I will begin the investigations." he is not comfortable when she stumbles and the immediate reaction is to assist, though he worries about what the ramifications could be and thus moves forwards but remains at a distance until called to for help.